Floating

Self portrait from a joyous family reunion.

The effects of the Kansas wind also reflect the the cogs in my brain. I need a time of rest, a time for my windblown mind to settle.

I’ve finally made it to this place. I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I’ve been looking at this space on my calendar since April, dreaming about how I would spend my time. Now that I am here I find myself floating. I feel incapable of doing anything. The school year was intense and we have been on the go since. While I have enjoyed each adventure, all the activity has taken its toll. I am undone and in a great need of rest.

What I envisioned for this week of summer was time in my art studio doing whatever I felt like. While this may still happen (tomorrow or the next day), today I am only able to read my magazines and pet my sweet dogs. Beyond that is unrest. So I will continue to float because I can. Thank you, Sark, for teaching me that it is okay to nap or daydream. Sometimes that is just the thing one needs to fill up again.

Isaiah 30:15a  For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: …

This evening I go to pray with my church family which is beautiful, restful and passionate. Perhaps then my soul will realign with my spirit and I will once again be refreshed.

amanda ∞

Harvest

This last piece for the Summit is entitled Harvest. The face is of a child, so I added imagery from children’s books and encyclopedias. The clock was stamped by my mother-in-law when she was a child. The verses featured were:

John 4:35-36  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.  (36)  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

The wheat is from my grandfather’s field the year that he died, and the dirt is from my back yard. Our basset-lab was kind enough to dig a fresh hole for me. The sides are cut from an old farm journal.

While I was gluing everything down with gel medium, I was reminded of the 4th grade. Being bored in class, I had spread glue on the palms of my hands and was peeling off the dried glue when the teacher noticed. She thought that was the strangest thing I could be doing. I thought it was cool how the glue came off in sheets and I could still see the lines and wrinkles from my hands. And here I was again peeling glue off my fingers after having such a wonderful time spreading it all over this final piece. Maybe I am strange, but glue makes me happy.






amanda ∞

Providence

The focus verse that was used for this year’s Summit is Esther 4:14b.

Esther 4:14b  and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

In the last couple months, our pastor taught through the book of Esther. Wow. I loved learning and applying what was being taught. In Esther, God’s name is never mentioned. God is represented by Providence. Esther was created to be queen to save the children of Israel from annihilation.

During the teaching on Esther, the topic of providence and purpose in each of our lives was heavily implied. This can be a difficult topic for me when I am in the throws of depression from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but knowing the truth, that God has a purpose even for me while I am dealing with depression, helps me to find joy within my winter days.

And here is step by step, Providence:






Purpose

Our church puts on an annual event focusing on missions called the Summit. This year I was asked to submit some art to support the theme, The New Missionary. As I worked through each piece, I felt prompted on each step through dreams, prayer, words, thoughts (with exclamation points). I was guided by the Spirit through the process of each piece.

Here’s the first one which I entitled Purpose, the focus of this one being God’s purpose for each individual. I enjoy seeing the process behind other’s art, so I thought I’d share the steps with you:






amanda ∞

Decompression

For almost two years, my family has been preparing and serving meals each Friday at VERONICA’s Voice. This past Friday was our last day. God had been leading me to reevaluate our service this summer, and once school began for us, the answer was obvious. It was time to stop.

I really have mixed emotions about this decision. I absolutely loved serving those women. God truly gave me a heart for them, to serve and treat them as the precious women they truly are. My kids did too, immensely. But there is such freedom in following God’s lead.

My greatest question for God about giving this up was, who will take our place? Who will love these women like we do? I prayed for help, then a replacement, but neither came except more help from my own family. God’s answer to me was to just let go. He would take care of the details. 

As we served up our last meal on Friday, I received confirmation in several different ways that we were supposed to be there that day, and that it should be our last. I was thankful for that. Upon driving home, van full of dirty dishes, I felt relief wash over me. A burden had been lifted, not the burden of service, but the burden of carrying too great a load.

I think that I was questioning God a bit about what He was asking me to do before Friday, wondering if I was hearing Him correctly. One of the books I picked up at the library about a month ago was Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God by Dallas Willard.
 Developing a Conversational Relationship With God  

But, you know what, I was too busy to read much of it. How ironic.

So this next week, with an extra 10 hours added to my week, I plan on reading, pondering, loving, listening, and keeping up with year 3 of The Latin Road to English Grammar. And I plan on thanking God for directing me. His way is always the best, even when we don’t have the whole picture.

amanda ∞

Prayer Brings Surprises

I’ve been serving lunch on Fridays at VERONICA’s Voice since late fall 2006. The number of people that are there each week differ, so I plan for 20-25. Sometimes I have leftovers, sometimes there is not a scrap left. Here’s what we do each week:
Monday: plan the menu and grocery shop
Tuesday: set aside ice to take on Friday
Wednesday: start with preparations
Thursday: cook, cook, cook; make tea; my daughter usually makes the desserts this day too
Friday: load up the cloth napkins, utensils, cups, finish any cooking, make name cards for the place settings, haul everything to my van, drive a few blocks to VERONICA’s Voice, unload everything, set the table, serve the meal family style, remove plates and serve dessert, wash the plates there, load up everything else that’s left, drive home, start washing dishes and packing things away until next week, wash napkins
Saturday: fold napkins

I usually work for several hours on Thursday and from wakey time until about 3pm on Friday. The work involved is quite rewarding since I absolutely love to cook and God has given me a super-huge compassionate heart for these women, but coming on 2 years straight with very few Fridays off can wear a girl out. I do have a friend that helps to serve on Fridays, and my daughter helps so much by making the dessert, but I thought it would be good to pray for some backup.

God has such a great sense of humor. My daughter’s love for cooking has grown immensely this past year. This week she says, “Can I cook the whole meal?” What a blessing to me since I really needed to focus on planning our school year. Little did I know my backup would come from within my own household.

Today my daughter will be serving:
Stromboli Sandwiches
Potato Salad
Grapes
Orange Sponge Cake (which is sitting on the kitchen table looking like a good breakfast 🙂 )

amanda ∞

Balance again

Balance is a continuous theme in my life. Probably because life is not stagnant. I love change, but always have a difficult time finding the new balance in change.

I had a rough summer. My husband was gone for long periods for much of his work. My empathy for single mothers rose significantly. As I balanced life without his presence, my weakness and inadequacies became very evident. This is not all bad as I drew closer and much more dependent on God’s Word and my prayer life took on a new level.

Now another change is approaching. We will begin school on Monday. This week has been one of preparation and planning so we can start fresh. A recurring theme is presenting itself, one I face each year. How do I stay involved, interested, enthused throughout the WHOLE school year? How can I be a better teacher for my children?

This past year God has directed me to rest from many extra activities like leading our homeschool group and Keepers of the Faith club. He took me on a journey of creativity. I have found that I am able to bear a much heavier load or work through issues in my creative time. It is important for me to incorporate this into my school year so that I am able to stay fresh and charged up as teacher, mom, wife….

When my children were younger, we used a family schedule so as not to waste our time and to free me from directing my childrens’ every moment. The schedule allowed us all greater independence. The last couple years we have not used a schedule, but we are going to implement one again. This will allow each of us to accomplish our specific priorities that get set aside when we don’t plan. Mine would be time in my art studio, my daughter’s would be cooking and creative time, and my son’s would be playing games and writing comic books. What led me back to scheduling? My children took the initiative this summer and each created their own schedule so that they wouldn’t waste away their time. Often the teacher is the student.

Besides scheduling our priorities, God has made it evident that my year of rest is over. He has led me to help on Sunday mornings with the elementary art class, and the kids and I will begin volunteering at the Kansas City Urban Youth Center once a week when the public school year begins. Although I will have a time to get acclimated, I am hoping to introduce art journaling to the kids there.

God always accomplishes His plan. In my life He used this very difficult summer to make me even more dependent upon Him. This year I’m allowing Him to work out the balance and direct my “schedule” more so than ever before. Although change is afoot, I am at peace because I’m not trying to juggle it all. With God, balancing has become much less wobbly.

amanda ∞